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A study1 of crib bumpers or bumper pads performed by searching the US Consumer Product Safety Commission database of injuries and accidental deaths in young children found that crib bumper pads were associated with crib deaths. Babies can become tangled in the pads or strings and be strangled, or become wedged by the pad and suffocate. It is extremely unlikely that using bumper pads would prevent significant injury to an infant to the degree that the risk of crib death would be justified. For this reason, I personnally do not recommend their use.
1. Thach BT, Rutherford GW, Harris K. Deaths and Injuries Attributed to Infant Crib Bumper Pads. J Pediatrics 2007;151:271-274.